‘He just wouldn’t shut up’: Ben Stokes reveals David Warner’s part in historic Headingley knock
England all-rounder Ben Stokes has lifted the lid on how he was spurred on by Australia opener David Warner during the third Ashes Test at Headingley earlier this year. Stokes struck a magnificent 135 to help the hosts clinch victory from the jaws of defeat and level the series 1-1. In his new book titled ‘On Fire’, Stokes revealed that Warner kept sledging him while he was trying to save the match for England and that really motivated him to win the match.
“I had extra personal motivation due to some things that were said to me out on the field on the evening of day three when I was trying to get through to stumps,” Stokes revealed in an extract published in Daily Mirror. “A few of the Aussies were being quite chirpy, but in particular David Warner seemed to have his heart set on disrupting me.”
“He just wouldn’t shut up for most of my time out there. I could accept it from just about any other opponent. Truly. Not from him, though.
“The changed man he was adamant he’d become, the one that hardly said boo to a goose and even went as far as claiming he had been re-nicknamed ‘Humble’ by his Australia teammates, had disappeared. Maybe his lack of form in his new guise had persuaded him that he needed to get the bull back?,” he added.
Stokes also felt that Warner was trying to shed the tag of good guy as he hadn’t been able to score runs in the series. Stokes also suggested it could have been a ploy by Warner to get the best out of himself as the ‘nice-guy act’ wasn’t working well for him.
“Although he’d enjoyed a prolific World Cup campaign, he had struggled with the bat at the start of the Ashes and was perhaps turning to his old ways to try to get the best out of himself. The nice-guy act had done nothing for his runs column.
“I muttered ‘Bloody Warner’ a few times as I was getting changed. The more time passed, the more it spurred me on. All kinds of ideas of what I might say to him at the end of the game went through my head. In the end, I vowed to do nothing other than shake his hand and say ‘Well done’ if I could manufacture the situation.
“You always shake the hands of every member of the opposing team at the end of a match. But this one would give me the greatest sense of satisfaction,” he added.
England -- all out for a woeful 67 in their first innings -- were 286-9, still needing 73 more runs to reach a victory target of 359 when bespectacled No 11 Jack Leach walked out to bat to join Stokes at the crease.
Leach, however, held firm with World Cup final winning batting star Stokes’s astonishing 135 not out seeing England complete their highest successful fourth innings chase as they squared the five-match series at 1-1.